It was the 117th Friday demonstration against the separation fence in Bil'in. The construction of the separation fence in the region already completed, but the struggle still continue. As the Israeli highest court of "justice" still have not gave its verdicts on the three cases related to Bil'in lands, there is also some hope for some gains in addition to the keeping the struggle against the separation fence presence in the focus of the media. For already 26 months, villagers from the West Bank village of Bil'in, neighbors, and people from the regional city Ramalla, together with international activists, and Israelis of the anarchists against the wall initiative (AATW) have been nonviolently protesting Every Friday the Israel's Apartheid fence and land theft it is used for.
This Friday, as usual, we started at noon the march to the route of the fence. Chants, songs, and slogans were sung as we marched on the road leading to route of the fence. There were with us even two members of the Tel Rumedia Circus for Detained Palestinians who showed up to lighten up the atmosphere and try to squeeze some smiles from the otherwise grumpy soldiers.
We made our way three quarters of the way to the Wall without incident. Then, up ahead in the distance, we could see a spool of barbed wire, at the foot of the hill the gate is at its top. The Israeli state force was posited half way between it and the top ready for action. When we arrived at the foot of the hill and started to go around the barbed wire the state forces entered into action. (It is a new strategy adopted by a new regional commander who decided to prevent the Friday demonstrators to come near the separation fence.)
As usual the last few weeks, they started to shower us with lot of tear gas grenades. As the direction of the wind was from the West to East (towards us) even the more daring among us could not penetrate it - not directly through the road, nor through the olive groove on its two sides. Many of us did not gave in. comrades regrouped and took a long detour through the olive groove to a point of the separation fence far away from the gate.
Once the comrades arrived at route of the separation fence, they placed tires and branches on the barbed wire and 30 comrades were able to make their way across the barbed wire and the first fence on the East side of the route the electronic fence run in its middle.
This small march made its way between fences towards the gate in the fence and Israeli forces. At first, the soldiers did not even notice the crowd until they were just meters away. When they were spotted, however, soldiers turned their fire from the olive grove and onto the pack of 30 but due to the topography and direction of wind, they failed to disperse them.
After some negotiating with the soldiers, the Palestinians were able to get the army to agree to let the thirty demonstrators exit through the main part of the wall, without shooting them. This is the location in the fence where, every week, we have been trying to reach.
The week end joint struggle started this week on Thursday with dismantling two road blocks. Early in the day, The roadblock went tumbling down the gorge near Deir Ibzia, The usual crowd of Palestinians, internationals and Israelis of the AATW initiative did the first action.
"Villagers from Ras Karkar, Budrus, Beit Likya, Bilin, Deir Ibzia and other villages marched towards an intersection on the main road to Ramallah which until 7 years ago used to serve about 15 villages in the area. The part of the road which is blocked connects the Palestinian villages of Ras Karkar and Deir Ibzia and does not lead to Israel or to a settlement. Its use is just for fragmenting the Palestinian lands into small Bantustans. Because of the obstacle, the villagers were forced to drive about 45 minutes along an alternate road instead of 15 minutes along the direct route to get to Ramallah. Two weeks ago the alternate road was also closed making the trip take and hour and a quarter and cost about 15 shekels instead of 3 - 5. In response, the villagers decided to open up the main road which has been closed by concrete slabs.
At a demonstration, along with Israelis and Internationals, the Palestinian villagers faced off against a group of soldiers who seemed eager to provoke a violent confrontation. The organizers of the demonstration decided not to grant their wishes and managed to prevent a confrontation. After asserting their right and ability to stay on the road the demonstrators decided to head back. Along the way back, when the concrete slabs blocking the road were reached, they were grabbed by the crowd which tried to push them to the side. The blocks seemed immovable at first but with some ingenuity and shouts of Allah Huw Akbar! the blocks were finally rolled away and tumbled down into the gorge.
For the first time in 7 years, cars were able to drive up from Ras Karkar directly to Deir Ibzia and were still passing through when the demonstrators left.
Israel is working on the creation of 16 tunnels which would create an apartheid' road network for Palestinians in the West Bank. Many existing main roads are reserved for settlers and Israelis, linking settlements to each other and to Israel. This forces Palestinians into circuitous traveling routes.
For more information contact the head of the Ras Karkar village council Rezik Nofal
The second road block removal was towards the end of the day, in Hebron region with a similar crowd of activists. About 80 people converged at the road block preventing the direct travel out of the small township of Daharia. Till Thursday evening people had to travel in a long detour of more than a hour when they wanted to reach any place out of their place. The action organized by the local comity and members of AATW met an abortive effort of a small team of Israel soldiers who were overwhelmed by the big crowd and failed to prevent the dismantle the old road block existing there since the first Intifada.